Brahmin playwright Cho Ramasamy (1934–2016) is one of Tamilnadu’s most important contemporary playwrights and thinkers. His 1979 Tamil play The Scriptures Don’t Say So (Cāttiram Coṉṉatilai) suggests that caste is located in natural qualities and merit rather than heredity by comically demonstrating the difference between abstract promotion of progressive ideas of intercaste marriage and the actual implementation of those philosophies in one’s own family. Many of the jokes and arguments for and against intercaste or caste/out-caste marriage are based in religious texts and stories, providing a Brahmin perspective on this contentious issue. The play, surprisingly, was not controversial, and I argue that this is because, even though it raises questions about the nature and validity of Brahmin-ness, it is structured such that its resolution does not read as a call for reform of the current system. Following the introduction, I provide an original translation of an abridged version of the play, the first ever published.

You do not currently have access to this content.